Dani Guiza is in no doubt as to the objectives Vicente del Bosque’s Spain side will be pursuing at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. “The only result I’m interested in is winning the World Cup,” the Fenerbahce striker told FIFA.com in an exclusive interview. “That’s why we’re going and I’m absolutely convinced we can do it.”
First of all, though, the former Mallorca man has to secure a slot in the 23-man squad for the finals, to be announced by Del Bosque this Thursday. “It’ll be tough to get a place on the list,” he continues. “I don’t know what it will come down to. I’ve always tried to do my very best and I’ve scored goals for the national team. There’s an awful lot of competition up front though and it won’t be easy.”
During his international career Guiza has never let the side down, scoring and setting up some valuable goals for his country. Leaping off the bench during the South Africa 2010 qualifier with Turkey in Istanbul, the Fener forward teed up Albert Riera for an injury-time winner. And just a few weeks later, supersub Guiza performed another rescue act in the match for third place at the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009, scoring twice late on against the hosts to help Spain end the tournament on a high note.
Having had a close-up look at Bafana Bafana, Guiza believes they can cause problems when the big event gets under way. “Playing at home and with their fans behind them, South Africa will be tough opponents,” he said. “They have some fine players too, like [Katlego] Mphela, who scored two goals against us in that game, and [Steven] Pienaar. It’ll be a difficult group for sure, but all I’m concerned about is what we can achieve, not the rest.”
Asked to explain the key to Spain’s success, Guiza replies without a moment’s hesitation: “Possession of the ball. When the little guys (Cesc Fabregas, Xavi, Andres Iniesta et al) start to knock the ball around that spells problems for the opposition, who are rarely able to hold out for the whole game. That’s what happened at EURO 2008. Teams managed to hold on in the first half against us but we destroyed them in the second. When the pequeñitos get into gear and start moving it about, they can drive you mad.”
And as far as Guiza is concerned, if La Roja can reproduce the possession-based football that swept them to the European crown, then a first world title is eminently possible. “Especially when you’ve got [David] Villa and [Fernando] Torres working wonders up front,” he adds with a mischievous grin. “And watch out for David Silva. I can really see him having a great World Cup.”
Spain’s first objective will be to negotiate their way out of Group H. Although Guiza acknowledges the section will not be easy, especially with Chile among their opponents, he believes they have the firepower to progress. “Spain simply have to get through the first round. I’d say they’re the favourites to go through, but the Chileans are a tough side and they keep running for the whole 90 minutes. They can put a lot of pressure on you.”
Pressure is something that automatically comes with the favourites tag, bestowed on Spain as a result of their incredible unbeaten run (ended by USA at the FIFA Confederations Cup last year), their continental title and their beguiling brand of football.
“Being favourites doesn’t mean anything at the World Cup. Any side can beat you,” warns Guiza, who adds that the players themselves pay no attention to the plaudits or the pundits’ predictions. “We haven’t got big-headed since EURO 2008, and that says a lot about this team. We know we won’t achieve anything if we don’t work hard.”
Should Spain advance from the group phase, one of their potential rivals in the Round of 16 is Brazil, an outcome that the 29-year-old front man is anxious to avoid. “I’d love to face Brazil, but in the Final, not in the last 16,” he explains.
At home in Turkey
To appear in a FIFA World Cup finals, the Jerez-born striker has made the most of the opportunities that have come his way in the national side. As regards his current club career in Turkey, however, Guiza believes he can do better.
“The only thing we’ve won so far is the Turkish Super Cup in 2009,” explains the man who became Turkish football’s record signing when he joined Fenerbahce in 2008 for €17.4 million. “My aim is to up my performance and win more titles. That’s what I work towards every day.”
So enamoured is the Spaniard of Istanbul, its people and the Fener fans that he is contemplating the possibility of staying there until he retires. “I might well end my career at Fenerbahce. I’ve got two years left on my contract and I’ll be 33 when it runs out.”
While not ruling a return to La Liga either, Guiza’s immediate concern is to make Del Bosque’s squad and help Spain conquer the world. “If I’m lucky enough to get picked, it would be my first World Cup. I just hope we can reach the Final and win it. We’ve got a great team and I think our time has come. Let’s see if it works out that way.”